According to reports in Spanish newspaper Mundo Deportivo, FC Barcelona have not yet given up hope on signing Brazil captain, Thiago Silva after the conclusion of this summer’s Confederations Cup. Despite turning down Barcelona just twelve months ago to sign for nouveau-riche Paris Saint-Germain, Silva is believed to be open to a move to the Camp Nou, where he would join his good friend and compatriot Neymar, who signed for the Blaugrana a few weeks ago for €57 million.
Barcelona coach, Tito Vilanova has always been a keen admirer of Silva’s talents, and rightly so. From his breakthrough at AC Milan, to last season at PSG, Thiago Silva has consistently performed at the top of his game for the past four seasons – solidifying his reputation as the best centre-half in World Football. Aside from Neymar, Tito Vilanova pinpointed Thiago Silva as his number one priority of this summer transfer window, although a move was thought to be off the cards given the huge cost of any potential transaction.
However, Vilanova’s persistence and reported indications from Silva’s camp that he would in fact be open to an offer from the Camp Nou means that the deal could be back on. With current Paris Saint-Germain manager, Carlo Ancelotti, inching ever closer to the vacant managerial role at Real Madrid, Silva is supposedly considering his options, pondering whether or not the current "project" at Paris Saint-Germain is in fact on the right course. Coupled with PSG’s reported interest in Chelsea centre-half (and another rumoured Barcelona target), David Luiz, it appears as though Barcelona could be in with a chance of securing Silva after all.
There are of course a number of obstacles complicating this potential transfer, with wages the primary concern for the Blaugrana. At present, Thiago Silva would become the second-highest earner in Catalunya – ahead of Barcelona legends such as Xavi Hernández and Andrés Iniesta – and naturally, that is a concern for Barcelona president, Sandro Rosell, who is set to open talks with Iniesta regarding a new deal in the coming months. In a press conference conducted just a week ago, Rosell appeared to dismiss rumours linking the club with a move for Silva – but also left the door open, figuratively speaking, mentioning Silva’s high wages, presumably in an attempt to "test the water".
And there are other concerns as well. Provided that Ancelotti does swap Paris for Madrid, PSG are unlikely to be receptive to the idea of losing their captain as well; particularly given Monaco’s promotion to Ligue Un. On the other hand, if Ancelotti stays put at the Parc des Princes, then Silva is unlikely to be as interested in a move to Barcelona – every which way you look at it, it’s a seemingly impossible deal.
That being said, there are a few signs that should encourage the Blaugrana – the first of which is Silva’s rumoured willingness to take a pay-cut, provided the two clubs can agree a deal. If Silva is happy to sacrifice some of his pay, then Barcelona have one less obstacle to negotiate – quite literally in fact. Furthermore, thanks to French President, Francois Hollande, PSG will soon have to contend with a 75% "supertax" on all salaries exceeding €1 million. While on the one hand, this tax is not payable by the employee (which would have effectively reduced Silva’s salary for us), the tax is payable by the employer, and free-spending PSG would be hit hard by this increased rate. Sure, Paris Saint-Germain president, Nasser Al-Khelaifi, is more than capable of paying this higher rate – but PSG have UEFA’s Financial Fair Play regulations to consider, and contend with. Any increase in costs will have to carefully considered, and weighed up against the alternative, which in this case, could be David Luiz.
So, while David Luiz would cost a small fortune, he would likely command lower wages than Silva, and in all likelihood, would command a lower transfer fee as well, potentially saving the club money. Given that PSG’s wages bill totalled €117 million* before the signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Ezequiel Lavezzi and Lucas Moura – among others – it could be a prudent move for the club to offload Silva now and purchase a cheaper alternative, before they have to pay the extra tax, and further increase their already spiralling wage bill.
*Even with the lower total wages, PSG still reported a €5 million loss, and depending on their financial results from 2012-13, PSG could therefore face potential punishment from UEFA, if they exceed the maximum permitted loss for the period
As Sandro Rosell pointed out however, Barcelona can afford a player of Silva’s calibre – and legitimately as well. Unlike PSG, who have cleverly signed a bumper sponsorship deal with the Qatari Tourism Authority to boost their revenues, Barcelona easily possess enough funds to accommodate the Brazilian defender – it’s merely a question of how badly they want him. In the case of Neymar, Barcelona identified their target early, made inroads with the player before negotiations, and while the price was inflated thanks to the interventions of Real Madrid, Barça got their man relatively quickly, and easily.
A similar sense of urgency and a similar willingness to "flash the cash" may hasten a deal for Silva as well. Assuming Barcelona offer anything in excess of €33.6 million, PSG would presumably stand to make a profit on the sale of Silva, while an offer of around €40-45 million could allow the Parisians to purchase a replacement – and potentially still make an overall profit on player transfers.
After wasting so much time and resources on the likes of Dmytro Chygrynskiy (€25 million), and to a lesser extent, Alex Song (€19 million), it’s about time that Barcelona committed to a real solution to their defensive frailties – whatever the cost. If that means opening their chequebook for Thiago Silva, then so be it.